Astros 8, Phillies 4

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HOUSTON (AP)—Though his leg was hurting and his heart was aching, Roger Clemens pitched through the pain.

The Rocket lasted long enough for his first win in almost a month—the 323rd victory of his career—and Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer to lead the Houston Astros over the Philadelphia Phillies 8-4 Monday night.

Clemens, who left in the fourth inning of his start against the Phillies last week after injuring his right calf, hobbled around on the injured leg throughout much of his impressive seven-inning outing. He also revealed after the game that he has been mourning the death of his college roommate earlier this week.

“It was a little bit of a heavy heart for me out there,” said Clemens, limping noticeably around the clubhouse. “The calf was in a state where it was giving me problems. At that point, it’s all adrenaline.”

Clemens (13-4) fought through the discomfort, allowing only two runs and five hits in his first win in five starts since July 28 against Arizona. He also had eight strikeouts—his most since the win over the Diamondbacks—and two walks.

The 42-year-old right-hander trails Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton by one win for 12th place on the career list.

Clemens even drew a standing ovation when he fielded a comebacker by Jason Michaels and scampered over to first base to tag Michaels for the inning’s final out. The Rocket barreled over Michaels, knocking off the left fielder’s hat and tumbling to the ground as he completed the play.

“Once I made eye contact, I knew had to get him,” Clemens said. “I knew I couldn’t afford to let him get to the base.”

Michaels angrily popped up off the turf after the play, but Clemens quickly gave him a pat on the back to diffuse any trouble.

“I knew he didn’t mean to do it that hard,” Michaels said. “But I was (upset) anyway. He apologized afterward and I knew he just couldn’t stop.”

Clemens wouldn’t stop pitching either, even though his leg started throbbing with pain between innings.

The Rocket, who was getting his calf massaged by trainers in the dugout tunnel, pleaded with manager Phil Garner to let him pitch the seventh. Garner reluctantly agreed.

“He’s a competitor. I don’t think he could stabilize on that leg,” Garner said. “He certainly couldn’t push off of it. But he gets it done. He’s unbelievable.”

Beltran connected in the seventh to become the 45th player in major league history with 30 home runs and 30 steals in a season. Craig Biggio went 3-for-4 with two doubles, sending the Astros to their fourth straight win over the Phillies after a sweep in Philadelphia last week.

The homer was Beltran’s career-high 30th of the season. Along with his 31 steals, he is the first player in the majors with a 30-30 season since Texas second baseman Alfonso Soriano did it with the New York Yankees last year.

“As a player, this is pretty special to me to able to steal bases and have a little bit of power,” Beltran said.

The Astros, holding slim NL wild-card hopes of their own, dealt yet another blow to the Phillies’ postseason chances. Houston also clinched its first season series win over Philadelphia since 2000.

Clemens got off to a rough start, allowing two runs in the first. Jim Thome’s single drove in Jimmy Rollins, and Bobby Abreu scored on David Bell’s sacrifice fly to left.

But Biggio sparked a rally in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double to deep left. Lance Berkman’s sacrifice fly scored Biggio, Jeff Kent followed with a run-scoring triple, and Morgan Ensberg had an RBI single and scored on Jose Vizcaino’s double to center.

Biggio singled in Brad Ausmus in the fourth to give Houston a 5-2 lead, becoming the first Astros player to surpass the 2,600-hit mark.

Meanwhile, Cory Lidle (7-12) is still looking for his first win since joining the Phillies in a trade from Cincinnati two weeks ago.

He allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings, remaining winless in three starts with Philadelphia. The right-hander also had one strikeout and two walks.

Lidle is 1-7 in his last 10 starts.

“I just need to get back to being my old self,” Lidle said. “I’m just trying to find the right rhythm, the right thoughts and the right pregame routine to get me going.”

Thome hit a two-run homer off Mike Gallo in the eighth, his 38th of the season, to bring Philadelphia to 8-4.

Notes

Rollins was ejected in the second for tossing his bat near the Phillies’ dugout after he struck out against Clemens. … Biggio passed Steve Garvey for 69th on the career hits list. … Kent’s triple was his seventh of the season, tying a career high set in 2000. … Beltran made a fantastic catch of Marlon Byrd’s drive to center in the seventh, leaping to make the grab and bouncing off the wall.

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